Think getting into the first round doesn't matter? Think again.
There are some common misconceptions regarding early entries into the NBA Draft. A new "wisdom" seems to have sprung up among fans: sooner is always better, the key is starting your career earnings clock, there's still more money than joe fan will ever see in getting on a roster - or even in Europe - heck, add in that the streets of Europe's major cities are paved in gold.
There are significant problems with these new orthodoxies - career longevity is where the real money is at (even for guys who are never more than bench players), an early start date on a career earnings clock doesn't mean much if the clock never gets past year 2, $1.2 million pre-taxes, agent cut, and expenses, is far from life changing money, some European teams can't even meet their payrolls due to cratering economies*, and most of the stories about huge Euro contracts seem to be apocryphal and possibly the work of a small handful of crazed European fans who plant these stories on various forums.
The facts very clearly display that it is far, far better to land in the first round of the NBA Draft - both for the guaranteed contract and the higher likelihood of establishing yourself in a league where it pays to play many years rather than a few - they print funny money for just about everyone besides first, second, and third year players in the NBA, stars or not. Willie Green, who in a 12 year career has averaged 10 points per game twice, had banked more than $22 million at the end of 2014. I studied draft years 2003-2013, and as the tables and charts show above and below** (props to our own LSAClassOf2000 for turning my sleep addled tables into these graphical displays), there is a distinct difference between length of the careers that start in the first round and those that start in the 2nd.
Lest anyone protest that, of course, first round careers are longer, as the top half of the round is all lottery players, note that isolating the non-lottery first rounders yields largely the same results.
Two articles ran last year on cbssports (HERE and HERE) that had truly dubious conclusions: the first suggested that early declarants fare better than their senior peers (this one is simply not true - it's mathematically wrong), the second suggested that the idea of bumping up one's prospects by returning for a senior year was outdated and fanciful. It is accurate that NBA teams (foolishly, I think, judging from the stats I've poured over these last weeks) tend to shy away from seniors in the lottery, but as the tables and charts show below, the value of turning yourself into a first round lock - even near the bottom of the first round - is significant.
So what if you don't get into the first round? I'm not finished with my research, but a general hypothesis is emerging. If you're stuck in the 2nd round, you better be ready to play right away or have freakish talent that teams will be willing to take multiple runs at. Essentially, if you're a 2nd rounder, you want to be either a guy who has spent 4 years in college (RS Jr or a SR) or a former top 30 recruit.*** Looking at second round seniors who are non-top 30 guys vs. early entries into the NBA Draft who are also non-top 30 HS recruits, the former have logged 37.63% of all possible years of service while the early entrants**** have accounted for 24.92% of all possible years of service. That's a pretty significant difference. It suggests that you don't want to be a second rounder or an undrafted guy (the cbssports article's point was that you make a roster generally as an early entry, drafted or not) whose game or body is not ready for NBA competition. If you are in that pool, it's good to still have the buzz (and the inherent talent) of being a former top 30 high school recruit.
To bring this part of the research to a close, I think people focus too much on the first contract (even though it is valuable for *future* contracts to be a first rounder). We hear too much about the "stigma" of being a junior and not a sophomore and the "super stigma" of being a senior (gasp) and not a junior with more upside. You know what's much more important than any of that? Being ready to play on day one of your entry into the NBA. Being ready to play on that first day in summer league.
Here is a partial list of guys who have had solid, lengthy NBA careers (or look to be on their way to such careers) after being drafted in the second round as seniors, without a former top 30 status to fall back on:
Dominic McGuire (RS Jr)
and a whole slew of guys still in the league who were drafted in 2012 and are looking very strong (Acy, Hamilton, Scott, Sacre, etc.)
I certainly understand the allure of the NBA Draft. For so many kids, the league is the dream. And why delay getting started with one's career? But is the dream a two to three year run (or, even worse, never seeing an NBA court)? I have to think it's a 10-12 year career, with some playoffs thrown in for good measure. My research suggests it can be a very bad thing to leave a a year before you're ready for the league if you have a lengthy career in mind. In fact, even relative to athletes who perhaps stay a year too long, it is a worse road to travel, to a significant statistical degree.
I believe people can improve their games at the league level - many do. But to get the attention and the support and the patience of an NBA team to allow for your development, they have to make an investment in you. And there's nothing wrong with spending four years in a college program to make sure that you are an investment that starts paying dividends on day one.
Since a slew of transfers are on their way and that number could still rise, I figure I'd post this since Michigan has already appeared to set a record for transfers welcomed in a single year with 4.
My source for this is the Bentley football roster database. This is a list of every documented Michigan incoming transfer.
I say documented because it is possible that guys transferred here in the late 19th century and early 20th century and it just wasn't listed that they transffered.
There are some really impressive names on this list that you might recognize.
|Player||Pos.||U-M Years||Transferred From|
|Charles Street||QB||1898-1899||Williams College|
|Ebin Wilson||C||1900||Eastern Michigan|
|Willie Heston, Sr.||HB||1901-1904||San Jose State|
|Arthur Reid||N/A||1901||Simpson College|
|Willard Peach||E||1916, 1919||Western Michigan|
|Howard Yerges||QB||1944-1947||Ohio State|
|Len Ford||E||1945-1947||Morgan State|
|J.T. White||C||1946-1947||Ohio State|
|Michael Kerr||OL||1986-1987||DuPage J.C.|
|Chris Kurpeikis||OT||1995||Notre Dame|
|Russell Shaw||WR||1996-1997||Locke - El Camino C.C.|
|Jonathan Goodwin||OL||1999-2001||Ohio University|
|Spencer Brinton||QB||2001-2004||San Diego State|
|Austin Panter||LB||2007-2008||Kensington - Butler C.C.|
|Steven Threet||QB||2007-2008||Georgia Tech|
|Blake O'Neill||P||2015-||Weber State|
Italics indicates JUCO (junior college) transfer
The most exciting part of the game was having Harbaugh home
As spring games go, that was the most exciting one we've seen in years...but only because we haven't actually seen a spring game in years. The 7-0 win for the Blue team featured lots of good defensive plays and some pretty disconcerting offense. It seems the rich (defense) has gotten richer while the poor (offense) has only received a modest raise. But there is still time...
"If They Could Say It" is my attempt to give the honest answers coaches (and others) won't/can't give during their press conferences. The idea is to answer the way I believe the individual would if s/he could answer honestly without any repercussions or media frenzy. This is my attempt at the Spring Game edition, and I'll answer some questions for the HC and the coordinators. When appropriate, I'll use actual questions asked at press conferences (those will be in bold italics; my made-up questions are in standard italics).
Your general takeaways from today? What did you like, what maybe obviously needs work still?
My general takeaway is that our offense is bad and our defense is good. Sure, the defense should be ahead at this point, but I did not see enough guys willing to do whatever it takes to win on offense. We have a long way to go.
I liked the inside pressure from the defensive line, the linebacker play, the safeties, and the cornerbacks who are actually listed as CBs on the roster. Dennis Norfleet may have just lost his job as a CB.
And finally, your phrasing really sucked there. "What maybe obviously needs work?" That's a stupid fucking question. And I think I've pretty much answered it anyway--there are probably only four positions on offense that are set in stone, and that's not a good thing.
What did you see out of your quarterbacks today? What did you like from them?
I saw two guys prove that they are who we thought they were. Shane has an amazing arm and is finally developing some touch, but he doesn't go through his reads and always trusts his arm to make the primary throw. He's got a pretty good deep ball--his fades get there pretty quickly and in the right spot--and some good chemistry with Darboh. Some of those slants he threw were Brett Favre speed throws...not sure if that's a good thing. Physically, he's ready to go be our starting QB, and we can win with him. Mentally, I'm not sure he's ready to go through progressions and know how to throw the ball so our guys can catch it.
Malzone has "it," but hasn't developed enough to be physically ready to start. He reads the game, goes through progressions, and knows how to win. His throws are still just a little bit off and he didn't challenge the defense deep. But he was hurried quite a bit and he is still in the thick of the race. We'll just have to see if he can make the throws this fall.
I wish Speight had been healthy. This QB race is wide open. Rudock will definitely challenge. By next year, we'll have lots of good options.
You yourself noted that you played with mixed offensive lines today. How much would you say the running game has come along since maybe day one of spring practice to now?
Not enough. Were you watching? It's not good enough. The blocking is still inconsistent and the RBs aren't always finding the holes. De'Veon Smith has demonstrated that he's the best back we've got that's healthy right now. His vision, balance, and power really showed today. We mostly limited Derrick Green to outside runs where he doesn't have to work as hard find the crease. Ty's been looking good, but wasn't able to go today. Shallman is an H-back playing RB. But the bottom line is that if we don't get better blocking from our first team OL, it's going to be a long season. I'm disappointed that only Cole and Glasgow have locked down starting roles. The other three spots are up for grabs, though Kalis is probably close.
Are you guys trying to come up with, even within the coaches, some kind of two-deep so that you go into the summer with some idea and then they can fight again in the fall, or are you just not even going to look at that again until the fall? You talked about the starting five on the line. Do you have an idea who those are? Can you share?
Did you see a published depth chart? We obviously have one. If I wanted you to know that information, don't you think I would have given it to you? Stop asking the same fucking question different ways as if that's going to get me to answer it.
The only guys that have locked-down starting spots on offense are Mason Cole, Graham Glasgow (assuming he's not in jail), Amara Darboh, and Jake Butt. Kalis and Smith are close, and Chesson is right there too. But it's disappointing that so few players have separated themselves, and that showed on the field today.
Your team lost today. What positives do you take away from this game?
That I'm a better football coach than I am a general manager. Yeah, the Maize team lost, but the defense sure kicked the offense's ass today.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of your defense?
Our DTs kick ass. We have several good players there, and not enough good players on the outside at DE. Glasgow, Hurst, Mone, Henry, and Wormley are all making plays. Injuries aren't helping, but we need more production from our DEs.
The LBs are pretty damn good. Bolden is everywhere, and Morgan isn't far behind. Gedeon will make an impact. Ross and McCray will add even more once they're back.
The starting CBs look pretty good--Lewis is a future NFL player and Countess has improved. We need more depth there--Norfleet isn't going to cut it. At safety, we are surprinsingly loaded. Wilson and Peppers are the clear starters, but Hill, Clark, and Thomas are impact players. We may have to find ways to get more of them on the field.
Coach, how di-
WOOOOOOOO!!!! FUCK YEAH!!! BLUE TEAM, BABY!!! SUCK IT, DURKY-DURK!!!
Coach Durkin mentioned that the defense is way ahead of the offense....
Well, duh. Did you see what I inherited? Do you have any idea how poorly coached this offense has been? We are un-learning bad habits and trying to replace them with good ones. That takes time, especially on the offensive line.
Who are the guys that stand out right now on offense?
Coach Harbaugh already answered this, but I'll add to it. Darboh is a very good WR, and he'll start for us. Chesson will likely start too, because he knows how to play the game and is a good blocker. We need Canteen, Cole, Norfleet, and Ways to step-up. Jake Butt's going to have a big year in this offense. De'Veon Smith showed why recruting rankings aren't always right--he's way ahead of Green. We still need more production, and hopefully Isaac can help us there. On the O-Line, only Cole and Glasgow have really grabbed the job by the balls. Kalis is close. We need Magnuson, Braden, LTT, Dawson, and JBB to step up. Kerridge is clearly our best FB. There are five or six starting jobs wide open, and that's not a good thing right now. On defense, they've got the opposite problem at DT, LB, and S--too many good players to start them all.
What are you going to do to improve between now and the fall?
The most important thing is that we're going to smash each other on the O-Line until we play like fucking men. But we really need time to develop--the offensive side of the ball on this team has not been well-taught, and we are obviously behind the defense.
Does that mean you think Coach Durkin is a better coach?
Shut the fuck up. Did you see who won today? BLUE TEEEEAAAAMMMM BABY!!!
Since there have been a couple of board posts discussing the [unnecessary] dichotomy of choosing Jaylen Brown or Caris LeVert, I thought I'd look at the stats of past 5 star wings to see what you could reasonably expect from Brown.
I used ESPN recruit rankings. I first looked at the stats of 5* freshmen who were labeled as SGs or SFs (i.e. Russel was listed as a SG on ESPN) from the 2014 class. Next, I went from 2014 to 2007 and picked out SGs or SFs who were ranked as a top 5 recruit in that class (because Jaylen Brown is a top 5 recruit), because I think that you can reasonably expect more from the #2 ranked player than the #20 ranked player. I know top 5 is arbitrary, and maybe next time I'd look at all players given the same ranking that Brown received (96)...although I'm sure those grades are also relatively arbitrary.
|ESPN 2014 Rankings||School||Points||Rebounds||Assists||Minutes||Proj. Draft #|
|Isaiah Whitehead||Seton Hall||12||3.9||3.5||27.8||N/A|
|James Blackmon Jr.||Indiana||15.7||5.3||1.5||30||N/A|
|Top 5 Wings|
|Caris Levert (Jr yr)||Michigan||14.9||4.9||3.7||35.8|
Stats compared to LeVert:
|2014 5* Wings|
|More points + reb||2/14|
|> 30 minutes||4/14|
|Top 5 Wings|
|More points + reb||5/13|
|> 30 minutes||10/13|
|Stayed > 1 year||3/13|
Some interesting take-aways:
There is, unsurprisingly, a wide range of productivity from 5* freshmen. If you are taking any 5* player, the chances that they can produce at LeVert's level is very low.
That being said, when you look at 5* wings that were ranked in the top 5 of their recruiting class (none of the current freshmen SG's or SF's were top 5), the variability drastically decreases, and productivity goes way up.
I don't know if Brown has the same hype as a Wiggins or Parker, but based on past recruits' performances, it seems likely that he could step in and be extremely productive.
Something that I guess I never truly appreciated enough about LeVert is his assist numbers. While I took LeVert's abbreviated stats from this season, which heavily samples games against scrubs, it is still impressive to see how many assists he had a game compard to other great wings. Losing LeVert would not only mean loss of a lot of experience, but also the loss of a great floor general.
One (somewhat unsurprising) thing is that almost every single top 5-rated wing went pro after their freshmen year. It leads me to believe that we'd either get one good-great year out of Brown, or a year where he didn't perform at the same level as a LeVert and then came back and tried to improve his game. I think it definitely removes the advantage of saying "well you might get multiple years out of Brown," because the only way that happens is if he doesn't play that well. In other words, I'm saying that I'd go with past precedent over the (well-intentioned) words of a high school senior when it comes to staying for more than one year.
All of this may very well be moot, as we have no clue of either Brown's or LeVert's intentions. It also doesn't give any clear answer to the pointless game of "pick one." However, it does show that...getting Brown would be awesome!
Bryan Fuller / MGoBlog
Michigan entered the season with an ostensibly high-powered “Big Three” – Caris LeVert had superstar potential and a dazzling arsenal of offensive skills; Derrick Walton was an aggressive, tough, and relentlessly driving point guard; Zak Irvin was a reliable artillery piece with plenty of room to grow. In hindsight, all fell short of expectations in their own way: Caris suffered under the burden of being an alpha dog, Derrick was perpetually nagged by a toe injury, and Zak’s shot abandoned him without an offsetting improvement elsewhere.
Eventually, injuries whittled the Wolverines down to just one of their three musketeers – Irvin. With all three, Zak often took an overly deferential role; without his running mates beside him and with Michigan’s season locked in firmly as a disappointment, he thrived and expanded his game, finding success with the ball in his hands and providing one of the brightest spots of a largely wasted year.
* * *
A Rocky Position Switch
Judging Zak by his aggregate body of work as a sophomore provides a much different picture than evaluating his strengths near the end of the year. On the whole, he averaged 14.4 points, 1.5 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 45 / 35 / 69 (2P% / 3P% / FT%) – solid, albeit inefficient numbers. With his move from the four to the three, he assumed a much larger responsibility in Michigan’s offense: operating from the left side of the floor opened up dribble handoffs into the middle of the lane (as well as other opportunities driving with his dominant right hand) and offered a bigger role than the one he occupied in end-of-the-rotation minutes as a freshman.
He didn’t adjust well, especially at first. More so than most former threes in Beilein’s system, he still remained one-dimensional much like he was two years ago – though considerably less efficient. His playmaking – which was missing for the first several months of the season – was sorely needed after turf toe sapped Derrick Walton’s explosiveness and Michigan’s offense eventually contorted to put a nearly impossible amount of pressure on Caris LeVert to generate quality looks. Between uncertainty at the four and five spots (Kam Chatman, while playing, utterly wrecked Michigan’s spacing and the cast of inexperienced posts struggled to replicate Jordan Morgan’s pick-and-roll prowess), it was a mess – a stark departure from the two seasons prior.
Here’s how Zak compared to all of Michigan’s other starting three men (starting after Beilein’s messy first year):
Though it’s tough to compare a sophomore to some of Michigan’s better players in recent memory, Irvin was a five-star and did have an impressive and encouraging freshman season – one that suggested a possible breakout season as a sophomore. It didn’t happen. The two things that stand out most are his low assist rate and free throw rate (and percentage).
2011 Tim Hardaway and 2013 Nik Stauskas weren’t relied on to create offense because of the excellent passing of Darius Morris and Trey Burke, respectively – Zak wasn’t able to provide his teammates with enough quality looks and Michigan desperately needed that. Irvin’s low free throw rate is disappointing for a different reason: after a freshman year as Just a Shooter™, a natural development track and much more playing time might have made Irvin into a player who could attack the basket. Like his passing, his ability to drive and score improved over the course of the season, but on the whole, it was lacking. Because of his less effective outside shooting, a reliable way to score – from the free throw stripe – would have been ideal, but Irvin only averaged 2.4 free throw attempts in 36.2 minutes per game.
Even with the late surge, Irvin was too one-dimensional. In hindsight, expecting a Stauskasesque leap from spot-up shooter to all-around offensive menace was probably too much. Fortunately Zak did diversify his game and flashed signs of a well-rounded game on the offensive end, but Michigan’s season was effectively over at that point.
[Hit the JUMP for the rest of the analysis]
Took some time and did another unhealthy and obsessive Harbaugh wallpaper. This time I noticed that one of his press-conference photos had him giving a relatively Godfather-like stare, so I ran with it. I hope you enjoy another off-season wallpaper effort. As always, constructive criticism and/or suggestions are welcome. Go Blue!